CFJ 1089

  The Proposal submitted by Swann and entitled "The Great Officer's
  Veto Scam Proposal" has not been distributed.


Judge:        Kolja A.
Justices:     Steve (S), Morendil (J), Michael (C)

Judgement:    TRUE

Eligible:     Antimatter, Blob, Chuck, Crito, elJefe, Harlequin,
              Jester, Kolja A., Michael, Morendil, Oerjan, Steve,

Not eligible:
Caller:       Murphy
Barred:       -
Disqualified: Time Agent (defaulted)
On hold:      General Chaos, Sherlock

Appeal eligibility:
  On hold:                elJefe, General Chaos
  Originally ineligible:  Sherlock, Murphy
  Judge:                  Kolja A.
  Default Justices:       Steve, Morendil, Michael


  Called by Murphy, 18 Mar 1998 01:50:52 -0800
  Assigned to Kolja A., 27 Mar 1998 11:36:08 +0000
  Judged TRUE, 27 Mar 1998 17:02:34 +0100
  Published, Fri, 27 Mar 1998 18:40:38 +0000
  Appealed by Blob, Sat, 28 Mar 1998 13:58:08 +1100 (EST)
  Appealed by General Chaos, Sat, 28 Mar 1998 07:55:09 -0500
  Appealed by Steve, Wed, 1 Apr 1998 10:57:52 +1000 (EST)
  Appeals process begins, Thu, 2 Apr 1998 12:33:39 +0100 (BST)
  Morendil judges to sustain, Sat, 4 Apr 1998 18:16:50 +0100
  Steve judges to sustain, Wed, 8 Apr 1998 13:16:06 +1000
  Michael judges to sustain, Wed, 8 Apr 1998 08:39:11 +0100
  Final decision published, Wed, 8 Apr 1998 08:44:30 +0100


Appelate decisions
Justiciar Morendil:

The Judge of this Statement presented a clear and concise argument in
favor of the decision. However, I find some of his reasoning flawed;
in particular, I believe that Rule 1339, cited therein, is evidently
not relevant, and I further believe that Rule 754 is not relevant

Should we interpret Rule 754 such that the difference between the text
submitted by Swann as "The Great Officer's Veto Scam Proposal" and
that posted by Promotor Blob under that title is *not*
"inconsequential", that would not necessarily imply that Swann's
Proposal was *not* distributed. Such an interpretation would merely
imply that Rule 754 is silent on the matter.

Judge Kolja observes that the difference between the two texts is not
one of "spelling, grammar, or dialect, or the substitution of a word
or phrase by a synonym or abbreviation", and draws the conclusion
that, since Rule 754 does not cover this particular kind of
difference, that difference is significant and the truth of the
Statement follows.

However, I find this line of reasoning suspicious in the extreme,
because it would lead us to regard as distributed a Proposal submitted
with the text "A Rule shall be enacted reading thus :" but posted by
the Promotor as "Yo man, let's create a Rule thingy like this here:",
a discrepancy far greater than the minor difference between Swann's
submission and what Promotor Blob posted.

However, I believe that Rule 754 does not govern in such cases; it is
my interpretation that it only concerns *original* statements by
Players. For instance, Rule 754 would apply in the case of a Player
posting a text labeled as an "Aplication to start a Gourp", which
would be considered unambiguously equivalent to an Application to
create a Group.

In the case at hand, however, the Rules require the Promotor to
distribute the text that was submitted to em, not a variation on it;
therefore, it is not enough that (as Rule 754 has it) "the meaning or
validity of such communication is not altered in any way by such
discrepancies"; it must further be the case that such a text be "the
same", in some reasonable sense, as the one which was submitted to em,
for *that* text to have been distributed.

In other words, the issue really hinges on the notion of identity. No
two copies of the text of a given Proposal are, of course, 'identical'
in the strictest sense; nevertheless we use an approximation of
considering two bodies of text to be 'identical' when they differ only
in minor particulars. We don't use a formal definition of how 'minor'
the variations need to be, however, expect as far as Rule changes are
concerned (Rule 1339); we rely on an intuitive notion of it, which, I
suppose, could be expressed as 'two bodies of text are identical if a
computer program such as diff would consider them identical.'.

Because this notion is not formalized, except in Rule 1339, I
believe the Rules are silent on the matter. I also think it is in the
best interests of the game not to allow a risk of Players voting for a
Proposal unless they are provided with the "exact" (in the above vague
sense) text of that Proposal. I further think that the discrepancy
between the text submitted by Swann and that distributed by Promotor
Blob violates the amovementioned intuitive notion of identity.

I thus find myself in agreement with the original Judgement of TRUE,
although unable to support the reasoning behind it. I therefore
choose to Sustain.

Speaker Steve:

I follow Justice Morendil a long way in his reasoning. I agree with
him that Rule 754 is not really relevant here (although the question
of the relevance of R1339 is one I will return to later), and that
the issue turns on the question of the identity of texts, that is,
on the circumstances under which we should be prepared to say that
two texts are 'the same'. I agree with Morendil that on this issue
the Rules are silent. I agree that our Judgements should therefore
reflect commonsense and the best interests of the game, in accordance
with R217.

However, the argument he gives that the best interests of the game
are served by applying a very strict notion of identity ('identity
under diff' as we might call it) has been effectively rebutted by
Kolja, who pointed out that R107 guarantees that whatever gets
distributed is what Players are voting on. So the question of whether
identity under diff really is the best notion of identity for us to
use remains open, as far as the arguments that presented by Morendil
are concerned. That is not to say that identity under diff should be
rejected - far from it. It is one of a number of standards now
awaiting a defence which are competing for our attention.

Certainly identity under diff has advantages which Morendil does not
explicitly mention. It is simple and easy to apply, yielding clear
answers in most cases. Perhaps it is to be preferred for this reason.
Yet there are arguments against it. Consider capitalization, for
instance. Former Rulekeepor Wes arbitrarily changed the capitalization
of many Rules in ways that would violate identity under diff, and yet
we accepted those changes as not changing the identity of the Rules.
So historically speaking, simple identity under diff does not seem to
be the standard that we have used in judging whether two texts are
the same.

One could argue in addition that identity under diff is not the
standard that we should use, on the grounds that it is too strict. If
strict identity under diff is to be our standard, then no typo
introduced into a Proposal by the Promotor, however miniscule, will
ever be considered insignificant. I don't think that is a desirable
outcome. (That's not to say that no typo - in particular, the one
introduced into P3710 - should be considered significant.) In that
case, the simplicity of identity under diff, supposedly its strength,
may actually be a weakness: it may be too simple to meet our needs.

The challenge then is to say in what ways identity under diff should
be relaxed, or with what it should be replaced. I propose to do what
I can to develop an alternative standard. To do that, we need to have
a clear understanding of what our needs are. As I've already intimated
above, I don't think it's desirable (ie in the best interests of the
game) that every typo introduced by the Promotor into a Proposal
should invalidate the distribution of the Proposal. I think we would
be best served by a standard which enabled us to say, at least some
of the time, "Well, sure, there's a typo, but it's still the same
Proposal." So strict identity under diff is out.

Working from the other end, equally clearly we don't want to allow a
situation in which it would legal for the Promotor deliberately to
make substantial changes to a Proposal, and then offer as a defence,
"Well, sure, it's completely different, but it's still the same
Proposal." So, as a proposed standard, 'anything goes' is also out.

That knocks out the extreme positions, leaving a large territory in
the middle to explore. One temptation is to begin by distinguishing
between accidental and deliberate changes introduced into a Proposal,
and to completely rule out the latter. But I think that temptation
should be resisted. If we had case where a Promotor had corrected
a spelling mistake before distributing a Proposal, I think our
standard should allow us to say that the Proposal has been distributed.

A better strategy returns us to R1339: if two collections of text
have different effects when adopted, then those collections of text
are not the same. (Note that this does not imply that if two
collections of text have the same effects when adopted, they should
be regarded as the same.) Nevertheless, if a change introduced by
the Promotor, either accidentally or deliberately, results in a
text different in its effects when adopted than the text submitted
to the Promotor, then I think that this is sufficient to show that
the texts are not identical. Since R1339 is very clear that the
change introduced by Promotor Blob into Swann's Proposal results
in a text with a different effect, I think we have no choice but to
conclude that Promotor Blob did not distribute Swann's Proposal.

I therefore sustain Kolja's Judgement.

Clerk of the Courts Michael

My fellow Justices have done all of original thinking on this
question.  This is appropriate because my own position is somewhat
compromised by my position as Judge of the similar CFJ 1090.  I agree
with the conclusions reached by Steve and Morendil and my ultimate
decision is to sustain Kolja's original reasoning.

My own instinct as to the best way of deciding whether or not two
texts are the same is to perform a "diff" modulo any explicit
provisions granted by the rules.  My fellow Justices seem averse to
this idea, and have come up with alternative ways of demonstrating
that the relevant texts in this case are different.  Particularly
compelling is the demonstration that the meanings of the two texts are
different, in the sense that if they were to be adopted, their effects
on the game would be different.

(This argument, an extensional one, appeals to the fact that if f(x)
is not equal to f(y) then x is not equal to y, where x and y are our
texts and f is our function for constructing the meaning of our

I am happy with the intensional argument to the effect that
  i) the two texts in this case are demonstrably different, and
 ii) the rules do not allow us to consider them the same.

In any case, the original judgement is clearly correct.

Original Judgement

Judgement: TRUE

Reaons and arguments:

Rule 1483/3 (Definition of Proposals) reads, in part,

      A Proposal is created whenever a Proposing Entity delivers some
      collection of text to the Promotor with the clear indication
      that that text is intended to become a Proposal.  The collection
      of text thus delivered is a new Proposal, and the Proposing
      Entity which delivered it its Proposer. A collection of text is
      said to be Proposed when it becomes a Proposal.

Based on this definition and the publically known facts, it is clear
that the proposal ("collection of text, delivered to the promotor with
the clear indication etc..") referred to in the statement for this
judgement was created, and exists.

This proposal was then given a number and placed in the proposal queue
(even if its text was not rendered correctly in the inofficial part of
the document in which the Promotor published the proposal queue at the
time). For the number note that at the time in question R109 was still
in the old form 109/2, which assigned proposal numbers at the time of
submission, not distribution. For the text note that R1036 states that
"The actual text of the Proposals in the Queue need not be published."
Therefore, the proposal queue did contain the proposal.

However, while the text of a proposal or its scrambled rendition in
the publication of the Proposal Queue has no legal significance for
the state of the proposal queue, R1770 (Distributing Proposals)
requires that "Proposals" be distributed, i.e. the body of text that
consitutes the proposal.

In the case of P3710, this didn't happen, and the difference between
the distributed body of text and the true proposal 3710 is not
insignificant. The only rules that deny minor differences between
texts any significance are Rule 754/3 (Spelling and Grammar Errors)
and Rule 1339/6 (Precision in Rule Changes) which allow "Differences
in spelling, grammar, or dialect, or the substitution of a word or
phrase by a synonym or abbreviation [...] as long as there is no
ambiguity in meaning" resp. "Variations in whitespace or
capitalization in the quotation of text in an existing Rule to be
removed or replaced". However, the differing parts of P3710 and the
distributed text were "Proposal <proposal number> at time" and
"Proposal <proposal numberat time", and do not contain a difference
covered by the quoted rules.

Therefore the text distributed by the Promotor was not the Proposal
submitted by Swann and entitled "The Great Officer's Veto Scam
Proposal", and the statement for this judgement is true.

Although it isn't strictly relevant to this statement for judgement, I
would like to add that the above arguments imply that the text
distributed wasn't proposal 3710, either. According to this
interpretation, P3710 is still in the proposal queue; the Promotor
broke the rules governing the distribution of proposals because e did
not yet distribute it, and, in addition, published wrong proposal
queue listings. Additionally, one might argue that the votes that
players and other voting entities tried to cast on P3710 were cast
before the voting period on this proposal began and were thus illegal
according to Rule 683/5 (Legal Votes). They should also not have led
to POs according to 1442. The attempt to make the proposal a Senate
Proposal was ineffective for the same reason.


(Caller's) Arguments:

Promotor Blob's attempt to distribute this Proposal included a typo not
present in Swann's Proposal submission.  This statement claims that,
therefore, Swann's Proposal was not distributed.